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What Exactly Is Common Sense? We All Think We Have It. Options
Hope123
Posted: Sunday, September 16, 2018 12:28:04 PM

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Joined: 3/23/2015
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Location: Burlington, Ontario, Canada
What exactly is common sense?

Why do humans not use facts, heed warnings, and even learn from past mistakes or have short term memory problems about important happenings that greatly affected them or their ancestors? Or use common sense to prevent disasters? I put this psychology thread into the Science sub forum.

First example - Ten years after the economic crash in the US that caused a global disaster, has US Congress learned anything? It appears not.

https://money.cnn.com/2018/09/13/news/economy/financial-crisis-10-years-later-lehman/index.html

"As president of the nonprofit National Community Reinvestment Coalition, he (John Taylor) warned Congress about the predatory and fraudulent lending that was fueling a housing bubble as early as 2000. Lawmakers told the Federal Reserve to write rules that would have put a stop to the worst practices. But the crash came first." The Financial Crisis Enquiry Commission of 2011 said "it was man-made, predictable and entirely avoidable".

Taylor says it makes no sense that Congress is loosening regulations put in place as prevention. A crisis could happen again. Ten years after the collapse of the Lehman Brothers, the Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, says another crisis could happen. And no one is listening once again.

All this admin cites is the rising stock market, the high corporate profits, and the low unemployment figures showing the economy has come a long way since Obama did the unthinkable, rescued those corporations "too big to fail", and tried to help homeowners with mortgage modification. Although many fines were paid, critics thought the financial CEOs should have gone to jail, and more should have been done for homeowners.The article explains at length exactly what regulations were started by the Obama admin to fix and prevent.

However, since the recession, blue collar jobs have not totally bounced back, people with bachelors degrees are getting jobs faster than those who have only high school education, home ownership is still low with those who lost homes often having no chance of ever owning again, and cities are booming while the rust belt has fallen behind. The top 10% on the wage scale are prospering more than the rest. "Median household net worth remains below where it stood in 1998, according to the Federal Reserve, even as households take on more debt than ever before. There's also a shortage of affordable housing, a legacy of the drought in both mortgage and construction lending that lasted long after the worst days of the recession had passed."

Why aren't they listening now instead of making things easier for the top 1%?

Another example of ignoring history: We see people denying that the conditions happening over the world politically nowadays have any similarities to Germany in the 1930s where only a minority supported the rise of a maniac because of fear. Some even deny that the Holocaust ever happened. We see some cultures being demonized by those who think the lack of melanin in their skin makes them superior and entitled.

Humankind has a lot of good qualities including compassion, intelligence, and the ability to reason, look at the past, and learn from it. They could have used common sense that would have saved the global economy from disaster.

Third example : humans know from the past the devastation that can happen and can use common sense to get out of the path of monster storms, so why do some stay in spite of warnings and offers of help to get out, and end up losing their lives?

So what are the qualities that hinder many of us from using facts, from heeding warnings, from learning from the past, and using common sense? Indeed what exactly is common sense? We all think we have it.



Elitism is the slur directed at merit by mediocrity. -Sydney J. Harris, journalist (14 Sep 1917-1986)
Gabriel82
Posted: Sunday, September 16, 2018 12:37:13 PM

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Common sense is supposed to be the capacity to figure out something simple without being told how.

Human nature is inherently lazy, which explains why some might rather "ride out" a storm than leave when obvious that should be done. Far too many also think it "won't happen" to them, which explains that attitude also.

Sadly, too many have to experience real adversity before they learn to do differently, but even then too many forget very quickly without others to remind them of what went before.
Epiphileon
Posted: Sunday, September 16, 2018 2:01:57 PM

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High HopeDancing,
Haven't had time to read your post yet; however, I must admit to being compelled to point out that as far as anyone has been able to determine, common sense does not exist. It is a folk tale.

Question authority. How do you know, that you know, what you know?
Hope123
Posted: Sunday, September 16, 2018 2:34:36 PM

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Joined: 3/23/2015
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Location: Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Epiphileon wrote:
High HopeDancing,
Haven't had time to read your post yet; however, I must admit to being compelled to point out that as far as anyone has been able to determine, common sense does not exist. It is a folk tale.


Lol, Epi. How to stop a thread before it gets started.

But I may even agree with you because it surely seems to be lacking a lot these days.

However, I was thinking along the lines of the definition in Merriam-Webster dictionary -

sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts

Or - the knack for seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done."

Here's a folk tale about common sense you might enjoy.

https://www.uexpress.com/tell-me-a-story/2000/4/23/anansis-common-sense-a-west-african

Elitism is the slur directed at merit by mediocrity. -Sydney J. Harris, journalist (14 Sep 1917-1986)
Epiphileon
Posted: Sunday, September 16, 2018 5:18:33 PM

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Sorry Hope, I don't mean to terminate the thread, and I promise to get around to reading the actual content. You may recall however that part of my major at university was in psychometrics, and the issue of common sense was something of a big deal and a conundrum at the same time. As you say everyone thinks they have it, but when you go looking for the common aspect of it, it disappears. Psychometric instructors in fact, use it to combat students getting "we can measure anything" syndrome by tasking them to come up with even a preliminary instrument that has a chance of resulting in any kind of cohesive, reliable and valid score across a population level sampling. Generations of aspiring psychometricians have tried and failed to come up with one, well at least through the '80s which was when I was current in the field.

I promise though I'll get back to the point of your OP as soon as I can.



Question authority. How do you know, that you know, what you know?
Hope123
Posted: Sunday, September 16, 2018 9:38:19 PM

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Location: Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Epi, I was joking about stopping the thread. I will be very interested to hear your point of view because I had no idea it had ever been studied. Please tell us more when you get a chance.

So maybe I shouldn't label it common sense then, but there have to be reasons why people do such things as vote against their own interests, or not listen to advice and warnings of history or experts or the voices of experience.

In the case of deregulation, IMHO that would be in the interests of the corporations and banks who want to make money whether homeowners or loan seekers get hurt or not. They lobby the law makers, and some of those may also profit. Banks and credit companies didn't used to make risky loans. I understand that businesses are there to make money for their investors but corporations are not exactly known for regulating themselves when it comes to their bottom line. It is difficult to know where it becomes labelled as greed. The cause of the recession was definitely greed. I have no idea if it is true or whether or not the attribution is correct, but supposedly LBJ said something similar to the fact that some Republicans often vote against their own best interests because of needing a feeling of superiority when given someone else to blame.

As for history, there would be apathy, denial that the similarities are there, there would even be ignorance when history is not known... What else?

I saw people in South Carolina being interviewed before the Florence storm. One was treating the warning lightly - they always warn us, I've ridden this out before. Hubris? I can do this? Apathy?

A survivor was crying about how awful it was in their attic listening to the cries for help of their neighbours as the flood waters reached up higher and higher at midnight. She was upset that nobody came till 9 am. Although they were warned about the amount of rain and flooding, she said, "We thought a brick house would be safe".. A mother and baby died and the father is in hospital when a tree fell on the house. A further point - the governor told them to come forward if they couldn't afford to leave or had no where to go and they would be helped. So poverty is not an excuse for not seeking safety when they had plenty of warning. So is this again hubris - I know better than the experts? We'll be fine. They put the lives of the rescuers in danger. Maybe if they were warned beforehand that there will be no rescuing, they would listen. No, probably not.

So greed, lack of knowledge, denial, hubris - what other characteristics?


Elitism is the slur directed at merit by mediocrity. -Sydney J. Harris, journalist (14 Sep 1917-1986)
Epiphileon
Posted: Wednesday, September 19, 2018 4:41:27 AM

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Hope wrote:
Why do humans not use facts, heed warnings, and even learn from past mistakes or have short term memory problems about important happenings that greatly affected them or their ancestors? Or use common sense to prevent disasters? I put this psychology thread into the Science sub forum.

First example - Ten years after the economic crash in the US that caused a global disaster, has US Congress learned anything? It appears not.


In this example, I would assert it has far less to do with something that might be called common sense, and far more to do with the machinations of the 1%. I haven't expounded on this notion very much here, partly because it sounds too much like an alarmist conspiracy theory, and partly because even though I highly suspect the validity of the notion, I haven't investigated it sufficiently to assert it authoritatively. This second part is most likely due to just not wanting to know for sure, and the reasons for that are complex, But, you might ask, what the hell is he going on about?

I believe* that, most likely throughout all of history, perhaps since the time of "The Great Pirates", but definitely since the time of the American Industrialists of the late 19th century, that there has been an effort to consolidate wealth and power into the hands of the few.

There is an interesting article at Wikipedia, "Robber Baron (Industrialist)" that discusses some attempts to describe this phenomenon in American history.

I think the phenomenon is real but far more insidious in its modern manifestation. Whether a concerted cooperative effort or just an evolution of strategies on the part of the, so-called, 1%, I believe the problem is real, and also suspect that there is nothing that will be, or even can be, done about it. Everything that I know about coevolutionary processes, and the extrapolation of the current human condition, is far better well known by those at the top. They have actually been investing huge amounts of money into studying all aspects of the human condition, as well as how to manipulate people. Where we are today in the USA is no accident. Even if there were such a thing as common sense, it would be no defense against such informed machinations.

Hope wrote:
Third example: humans know from the past the devastation that can happen and can use common sense to get out of the path of monster storms, so why do some stay in spite of warnings and offers of help to get out, and end up losing their lives?

A prime example of why common sense does not actually exist.



*Ach! There it be! One of the very few things I believe without having an examined; solid, rational, evidential basis for. I know there are a few of these, but I do try to keep them to a minimum.

Question authority. How do you know, that you know, what you know?
FounDit
Posted: Wednesday, September 19, 2018 2:19:12 PM

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Joined: 9/19/2011
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“Common Sense” is nothing more than intelligence guided by experience. Each generation attempts to pass on the knowledge and experience it gained over the years to the succeeding generations. The reason it is called “common” is because humans have discovered over the millennia that there are certain rules of behavior that always hold true when weighed against the good of our individual selves and our species. Such rules include things like not permitting evil (selfishness) to run rampant, the necessity of fighting against evil (selfishness), yet at the same time fighting for the sanctity and continuation of life. There must be a balance in all things, or we suffer for it.

However, each generation, as it learns, invents, and explores, becomes excited about the future, often views with disdain the ideas of the past, and believes its ideas are better than those it was taught by its elders. This, in turn, causes many to reject tried and true principles, thinking they know better how life should be governed, and lived.

This is the result of selfishness. In the case of politicians, it results from placing selfish desires above what is good for those they allegedly represent. When that happens, laws and regulations are crafted for personal enrichment under the guise of doing good for the people, but which in reality results in social damage. Power corrupts, and that’s why it is important to be very careful to whom we give power. Some can wield it for the benefit of others, but human nature will always move the compass needle back toward the self eventually. And it is selfishness that causes the individual to proclaim that what they think is just "common sense", simply because they believe it. But for it to be truly "common sense", it must be true for everyone.

Freedom permits people to make mistakes, foolish mistakes sometimes, but still, they must be allowed to do so, or freedom is lost, and in the U.S., freedom is still cherished (though it seems to be on an endangered species list at the moment). It is this freedom that permits people to place themselves in danger even while believing themselves competent to overcome in situations such as natural disasters.

So we all know about common sense because we all have been taught most of the ancient rules of behavior, of how to treat others, of how to stay safe, but when we put our own desires above those rules, or we see others doing it, we still wonder how that can be, but the answer is simple: self-centered thinking.


We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
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